Beneath all science fiction lies a dilemma, one solved by the best storytellers: whether the speculative devices are more interesting than the characters created to experience them.
Author Archives: Matthew Sorrento
Even students who love writing aren’t thrilled about first-year composition. If not taught well, the classwork and assignments feel routine, like practice with no chance for game time.
As Wood noted frequently, genre is largely based on ideology; it’s fostered through popular entertainment and in the film, directly stated by the chief.
As in life, some promises are hard to keep onscreen. This is true in the case of Walter Hill’s cult pic The Warriors.
The food science/health documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead makes the filmmaker-subject motif – in which the man behind the camera spends as much time in front of it – appear to be the norm.
Sadly, it’s been a while for Alexander Payne.
Picture this: a secluded scientist waits in a checkout line for his new love interest to return with an item. An unusual pickup for him, she had invaded his radio interview about bird flu (he’s an expert) and then asked him to bed when they had drinks.
In the first half of the twentieth century, film was in love with the newspapers. Stories of reporters and publishers abounded, not the least being, of course, Citizen Kane, based on William Randolph Hearst. Viewers laughed (rightfully) at a joke concerning radio in Raoul Walsh’s The Roaring Twenties, though the bit really reflected love for [...]
In his original review of Raising Arizona, Roger Ebert describes Nicolas Cage’s character as having graduated from the “Rooster Cogburn school of elocution.” Even though the critic loved the original film of True Grit, he wasn’t championing Arizona, which he thought to be artificial and distracting in its language. How ironic for him to see [...]
Those who love hearing fashion discussed as serious art will love this documentary, a portrait of the late iconic French designer, Yves Saint Laurent. The film enters the story of Laurent by learning that his sizable art collection will be auctioned by his long-time business and romantic partner, Pierre Berge. Laurent’s legacy, as told by [...]
De Niro’s long since served as an inspiration to Scorsese – it now appears that the paycheck is the actor’s main motivation. He hasn’t worked for the filmmaker since the 1990s, when the former starred in the powerfully creepy remake of “Cape Fear.” In this film, the director tributed classic crime with a modern, more [...]
You really can’t blame the guy: when asked about his career, Brendan Fraser ducks the question like “Encino Man” diving into the nearest cave. “The science of chaos rules [my] decisions,” the 41-year-old actor remarked, when the question surfaced during a recent Philadelphia round table. Showing a knack for low comedy as early as “Encino,” [...]
With characters so intriguing and narratives so deep, it’s hard to figure out where Pedro begins: with the plot or the people. His scenarios launch off as melodramas, until the plots go deeper into the characters’ psyches. Hence, the central players come full bloom, as rich a – perhaps richer than? – the persons of [...]
Peter Jackson’s head must have been spinning as he read Alice Sebold’s disturbing if obvious novel, “The Lovely Bones.” After viewing the film version, we’d guess that the novel brought many a fantastical set piece to the filmmaker’s vision. The otherworld of the novel’s dead girl, Susie Salmon, suggests all sorts of whims: trees bursting [...]
Morgan Freeman’s role in “Invictus” is a universe away from his role in “Lean on Me,” even if both characters turn around troubled institutions. The latter film, from 1989, features Freeman as Joe Clark, the real life principal who brought tough love to a near militaristic level. Clark, who coins himself “Batman” for his penchant [...]
Bright Lights Film Journal, which offers some of the finest film writing out there, took the gamble and went virtual in 1996 after an on-off history in print.
by Phil Hall (reprinted from Film Threat, April 18, 2009)For the serious movie lover, there are few things more depressing than a theatre that is shut down. The rise of the conglomerate-owned multiplexes in the 1970s helped to speed the decline of many independently owned community theatres, and today many of the smaller venues exist [...]
Thankfully, unlike those simpler films of lesser quality, many dynamics to Brokeback are still unchartered.
No mercy is shown to the players in Ballast, and not much more to the film’s viewers. The camera quietly trails the travails of a family in the Mississippi Delta. It documents what at first appears to be the minutiae of their lives, though soon proves to be the actions and results of traumatic, life [...]
Even the more inventive thrillers will fall back on convention, as this new French entry does in its opening minutes. Here we find an idyllic outdoor dinner, in which the camera circles guests to create a tone so dreamlike that, alas, we’re ready for a doze. At times like these, no one seems to have [...]
One image in this film is purely apocalyptic: a computer reproduction shows specs swirling away from a mass of white, which director Herzog tells us in voiceover is a polar cap losing iceberg-sized pieces into a warming sea. The creeping destruction is subtle, even if our species grants it a fast approach. It is one [...]
Matthew Sorrento reviews the new documentary about famed writer Harlan Ellison
Criterion Collection presents journeyman director Louis Malle’s debut, a French exercise in noir.
1971′s Play it Again, Sam previews how Woody Allen would soon elevate his comic acumen into masterful studies of tragic romance
It’s a shame that we have to outgrow Ray Bradbury. While his stories often boil down to a banal sentiment in the end, his language pulls you right into his fantasy worlds. “Kaleidoscope,” featuring astronauts thrown from their ship into space, begins with three images describing the ship torn open as a “giant can opener,” [...]